Sustaining personal connections through a labor of LOVE
The community garden at Beacon Hill in many ways, is more than just a garden, it’s a key resident fixture and way for everyone to stay connected. Many of our residents are avid gardeners and have moved several of their favorite plants right from their home to the garden space here. Residents are assigned their own garden plot anywhere from 5′-10′ wide and grow an assortment of flowers, vegetables, herbs and more.
Resident Carl Welmers, a certified master gardener, featured just last year on our blog talks about his love for gardening. “It’s in the genes,” Carl explains, noting that his uncle was also a master gardener as well as president of the Kent County League and of the Bulb Society. “He always wore a flower from the garden to church,” Carl remembers. “You could always pick him out because he had a carnation or a pansy or a tulip. That was his trademark.”
“I’m not that way, but I picked up some genes, I think. It’s nice to make little arrangements for people. Sometimes—we had a couple of people that had been quite sick—you just come out and clip, and you’ve got a nice little arrangement for them. I guess you could say that “it’s in my blood.”
Growing beyond the garden
Resident Mr. Til Peters, donated sorrel to the Beacon Hill kitchen garden over 5 years ago, and we continue to harvest it today and serve it every summer on our menu! Mr. Peters said, “My mother used to gather sorrel and make sorrel soup, which rapidly became one of my favorite dishes.”
Another resident Mr. Ed Ault, grows sunflowers every year for ladies going through a difficult time because, “every lady deserves to receive flowers.” He continues to garden regularly because, “I find it calming, it takes away stress and brings joy to my heart.” Mr. Ault has also grown and shared cherry tomatoes and daisy in addition to the sunflowers. He says that when he has extras of things from the garden that he likes to share with his Beacon Hill Neighbors. “Why not share the joy with others?”
One of our most touching stories is about a special space named, “Jan’s Garden.” Mrs. Jan Werner was a well-known and equally well-loved resident who resided at Beacon Hill for several years. She was known for her big heart and generosity. After Mrs. Werner’s passing in 2020, two other residents assumed responsibility for the garden. Anytime another resident is going through a difficult time, they cut a bouquet from Jan’s Garden to help lift their spirits.
Horticulture is such a part of the fabric of Beacon Hill, that flowers and plants are regular gifts for our residents. Early this year, we gifted residents with daffodils and shamrocks as part of spring celebrations. And as the weather warms up, we look for more ways to give those plants a new life.
A special up-cycling project we’re working on with the residents is composting the plants from those potted plants, and then used the rest of the loose soil to fill in the low spots in the garden. The pots are then re-used for a seed starter project. Residents will sprout herb seeds in egg cartons, and then plant them into the pots. They can choose to keep these for themselves, or they can donate to the community garden.